25 August 2013

Blonde Brownies or Brown Blondies?

These are by no means delicate or beautiful. They don't photograph tidily, and you can't eat them neatly. 
You can however eat them slowly, savoring the chewy, dense texture, the intense chocolate flavour of the brownie top, the tangy raspberries hidden in the middle, and the caramelly flavour of the blondie bottom. You can let the white chocolate chunks slowly melt in your mouth...or you can shovel three down in a matter of minutes. Whatever floats your boat.

These started off as a rather simple but still pleasantly tasty treat - white chocolate and raspberry blondies. We had a whole box of raspberries sitting in the fridge that were just too soft to eat on their own, or as more often occurs in my house, at the side of chocolate cake. So baking with raspberries was in order. When I'd whipped up the blondie batter and studded it with the bright red berries, the offering looked a little shallow in the tin and just a bit underwhelming. 

My brain set to work and my first thought was, well double the blondie recipe and have a secret raspberry layer in the middle. That was all well and good until I realised I didn't have enough brown sugar. Back to the drawing board. Suddenly I was hit with a wave of inspiration and thought to myself "mwhahaha I'm an evil baking genius" (just a little insight of what goes on in my head) - what would work just as well, if not better, than blondies? Brownies! And so my somewhat traditional treat turned into something new, layered and delightful. Give it a go, you'll love them.

Blondie Layer:
115g butter, melted
100g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
100g white chocolate, chunked

Preheat the oven to fan 160.
Beat together the melted butter and two sugars in a large mixing bowl until all combined and smooth. Crack in the egg and splosh in the vanilla and mix again. Carefully fold in the flour and baking powder until you have an even batter. Mix in the white chocolate chunks and pour into a greased 9x9 inch pan.

Dot raspberries all over the top of the blondie layer until it is mostly covered and you just see peeks of blondie batter coming through (I used roughly 175g raspberries).

Brownie Layer:
100g dark chocolate
100g butter
45g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
2 eggs
140g caster sugar
100g white chocolate, chunked

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain marie.
Whilst the chocolate is melting, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until doubled in volume and moussey. When the beaters are lifted they should leave a small trail that sits on the top of the mixture for a few seconds. 
Fold the melted chocolate and butter into the moussey egg-sugar mixture, using either a spatula or a metal spoon, and going gently so you don't knock all the air out that was just whipped in.
Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and again fold gently.
Add the white chocolate chunks then pour over the raspberry-studded blondie batter.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until there is a slightly crisp top to the brownies but a slight wobble underneath. You might need to cover the top with foil after about 20 minutes to avoid the top burning, so keep an eye on them. Leave to cool in the tin then slice in 16 pieces.

19 August 2013

Mini Victoria Sandwiches

Light and fluffy vanilla cake. Billowy, softly whipped cream. Sweet strawberry slices. And it's seriously easy too. What more could you want on a beautifully sunny summer day?

Victoria sponge is a classic British cake. And everybody loves cupcakes, right? So I did a little twist on both and made cupcake-y mini victoria sponges. 

These are so easy to whip up. Less than ten minutes work to make the little cakes. They play by the 2-4 rule of baking; 2 eggs and 4oz of sugar, butter and flour. 

100g/4oz butter
100g/4oz caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
100g/4oz self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to fan 160 and line a baking tray with 12 cupcake liners.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract with the second egg.
Fold in the flour and baking powder until everything is fully combined.
Divide the batter between the cases and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden and the tops spring back.
Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes are cool, cut them in half horizontally.
Softly whip 150ml double cream until it is billowy and just holds it's shape, not stiff and dry.
Spoon a little cream onto the bottom half of each cake.

Top the cream with some sliced strawberries.

Replace the top half of the cupcake and you're done. A tasty twist on a classic.

Also, since they're mini, you're totally to go back for seconds...or thirds (no one will tell)

15 August 2013

Chocolate and Raspberry Bars

They're not quite brownies, not quite cake. These are dense and fudgy, rich and chocolately. The raspberries on top add a little tartness and complement the dark chocolate flavour really well. A few extra chocolate chunks are just the cherry on top, they are softened from baking so melt in the mouth for a totally "mmmm"-inducing mouthful.

1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup coffee, brewed and slightly cooled
1 egg
1/2 cup greek/natural yogurt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to fan 160. Line a 12 x 8 inch tray.
Mix the sugars, coffee, yogurt, egg, oil and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until everything is evenyl combined.
Fold in the flour and cocoa powder until you have a smooth, lump-free batter.
Pour into the tray and bake for 25 minutes.

How easy was that!?

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. These cut into 10 reasonable sized slices. 
Last night we have these piled high with extra fruit; strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. But I reckon these would be delightfully indulgent warmed through in the oven for 5 minutes and served with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. 

8 August 2013

Vanilla Cake with Buttercream and Ganache

Just a quick post today.
After making the pavlova I had loads of yolks leftover so I went on a hunt for a yolky recipe that was a little different to the standard creme brulee or custard. Many websites and recipes later I decided I'd done enough reading to give a yolk-only cake recipe a go.

Cake Ingredients:
85g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to fan 160.
Grease and line two 7-inch tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks and beat until fully combined.
Mix the baking powder and salt into the flour then add one third of it and fold in gently. Add half the milk and stir. Add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining milk and then the remaining flour.
Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden and the cake begins to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
Cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla Buttercream Filling:
75g butter
150g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

Beat the butter until softened. Add the icing in thirds and beat until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla for flavour and as much or as little milk as needed for your preferred consistency.

Turn one of the cakes upside down and put on a plate or cake stand. Spread the buttercream over it in an even layer.

Chocolate Ganache:
100ml double cream
100g dark chocolate

Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a small mixing bowl.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just starting to bubble at the edges. Pour over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is melted and everything is mixed together. 

Place the other cake, right side up, on top of the buttercream layer. Top with the ganache. If you want, leave the cake out of the fridge for half an hour and let the ganache slowly drip down the sides of the cake for a more dramatic finish. I threw mine straight in the fridge because it was such a hot day so all the ganache stayed on top.